LA GRANGE, IL — The tennis courts next to Gurrie Middle School in La Grange closed July 1 after the local park district ended the agreement to maintain them.
For three decades, the La Grange Park District and the La Grange 105 School District operated under an arrangement for the three courts at Catherine Avenue and 53rd Street: the school district owned the land, while that the parks could use them.
But the park district decided not to renew the agreement for another 10 years in May.
According to the minutes of the park board meeting, the park district was already struggling to maintain its own facilities without taking care of those it does not have.
On July 1, the school district posted a sign outside the courts stating that the Park District had terminated the agreement. He also said the Park District had been required to maintain the courts.
Due to the state of the courts, the school district’s liability insurer has advised the district to close the courts until further notice, according to the notice.
On July 1, School District 105 in La Grange posted a notice on the tennis courts next to Gurrie Middle School stating that they would be closed until further notice. (Courtesy of La Grange resident)
In an interview Friday, District 105 Superintendent Brian Ganan said the courts were in poor condition, presenting tripping hazards.
“We should shut it down until we make repairs,” he said. “We are working with the Park District to resolve this issue. We have had fruitful conversations. We hope to have a joint solution very soon.”
Ganan said the school district does not use the courts for its curriculum.
The park district also has tennis courts in Gilbert and Sedgwick parks.
In early July, a petition to save tennis courts was posted on Change.org. By Friday, more than 430 people had signed it.
Jenny Bechtold, executive director of the park district, could not be reached for immediate comment on Friday.
According to the minutes of the park’s board meeting, members needed to make a decision quickly or the agreement would be renewed for 10 years.
The minutes read: “We would like to pursue a partnership, but the agreement should be beneficial for both parties.”
Officials said the park district needed to spend $6 million to repair its own facilities and parks. If it invested taxpayers’ money in outdoor facilities, its deferred maintenance would suffer more, officials said.
Park board member Brian Opyd said the park district asked school officials what would be best for the schools, according to the minutes. But Opyd said the parks received no solid response.
The board voted unanimously to end the deal.